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The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun, William Blake


Facts About the Authors


Between 1791 and 1792, during his year in France, William Wordsworth fell in love with Annette Vallon, the daughter of a French surgeon at Blois. The two had a daughter, Caroline. But almost immediately after she was born, Wordsworth was forced to return to England. The outbreak of war made it impossible for him to rejoin Annette and Caroline. Wordsworth's guilt over this abandonment, his divided loyalties between England and France, and his gradual disillusion with the course of the Revolution brought him to the verge of an emotional breakdown. According to his account in The Prelude, "sick and wearied with contrarieties, he yielded up moral questions in despair." His suffering, near collapse, and the successful effort, after his break with his past, to reestablish "a saving intercourse with my true self," are the experiences that underlie many of his great poems.

WILLIAM BLAKE (1757 - 1827)

Poetic Sketches was the only book of Blake's to be set in type according to customary methods. In 1788 he began to experiment with relief etching. He wrote the text in reverse (so that it would print in the normal order) and also drew the illustration; he then etched the plate in acid to eat away the untreated copper and leave the design standing in relief. The pages printed from such plates were colored by hand, often by Blake's wife, and stitched together to make up a volume. This process was laborious and time-consuming, and Blake printed very few copies of his books.  

LORD BYRON (1788 - 1824)

Lord Byron had a deformed foot, made worse by inept surgical treatment, about which he felt acute embarrassment. His lameness made him avid for athletic prowess; he played cricket and made himself an expert bowler, fencer, and horseman and a powerful swimmer. The French critic Hippolyte Taine gave only a few pages to Wordsworth, Percy, Shelley and Keats and then devoted a long chapter to Lord Byron, "the greatest and most English of these artists; he is so great and so English that from him alone we shall learn more truths of his country and of his age than from all the rest together."


Yeat's father was a religious skeptic, but he believed in the "religion of art." Yeats, religious by temperament by unable to believe in Christian orthodoxy, sought all his life to compensate for his lost religion. This search led him to various kinds of mysticism, to folklore, theosophy, spiritualism, and neoplatonism. He said he "made a new religion, almost an infallible church of poetic tradition."

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The Sick Rose, William Blake


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